Oklahoma City convention center hotel study put on hold

A skeptical Oklahoma City Council seeks assurances on the need and feasibility of a convention center hotel before approving a $100,000 study on how to fund the project.
by Steve Lackmeyer Published: June 12, 2013
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A pitch to spend $100,000 on a study on how to fund a convention center hotel was put on hold by a skeptical Oklahoma City Council on Tuesday as members sought to be assured first as to whether the project is needed and feasible.

The council was asked to provide $100,000 to the Oklahoma City Urban Renewal Authority to contract with Chicago-based Public Financial Management to draw up potential funding plans for a hotel of at least 500 rooms.

The Alliance for Economic Development of Oklahoma City, meanwhile, has contracted with Stone Consulting to do a market analysis for whether a hotel is needed, and if so, how big of an operation can be supported by a new $250 million convention center funded through MAPS 3.

Both Tom Morsch, managing director at Public Financial Management, and marketing consultant Jeremy Stone promised they were prepared to start their studies with “no preconceived ideas.”

A hotel was first suggested in 2008 as part of a report commissioned by the Greater Oklahoma City Chamber. The full report was never released to the public, but a summary suggested a hotel of at least 650 rooms would be needed to ensure success for a new convention center.

After funding was approved by voters in December 2009, outside experts, including the Urban Land Institute, suggested the city likely faced a minimum subsidy of $50 million to complete hotel deal.

“We don't have a preconceived outcome of options here,” Morsch said. “There is plenty of data out there. What's changed is there used to be an expectation on behalf of the hotel people of how big can the subsidy be. And we've tried to eliminate that altogether or at least get a more fair balance of contributions.”

Councilman Ed Shadid, long a critic of the proposed hotel, bristled at a suggestion by Cathy O'Connor, a leader of The Alliance for Economic Development and the Urban Renewal Authority, that the need for a hotel was discussed in the MAPS 3 campaign.

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by Steve Lackmeyer
Business Reporter
Steve Lackmeyer is a reporter and columnist who started his career at The Oklahoman in 1990. Since then, he has won numerous awards for his coverage, which included the 1995 bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building, the city's Metropolitan...
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Public disclosure?

A convention center was included on the MAPS 3 ballot after a report commissioned by the Greater Oklahoma City Chamber advised the city needed new facilities. The report was not released to the public, as chamber officials said it contained proprietary data. Cathy O'Connor, Alliance for Economic Development president and Urban Renewal Authority director, told The Oklahoman she will release results of any reports by Stone Consulting or Public Financial Management.

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